By Satuk Bugra Kutlugun
Turkey's foreign minister said on Wednesday that the YPG/PKK terrorist group withdrawing from Syria's Manbij region will not suffice.
"It will not be enough for the YPG to retreat from Manbij. There will be other cities after Manbij," Cavusoglu told a joint news conference with his Lesotho counterpart Lesego Makgothi in the capital Ankara, referring to possible future Turkish operations in the region.
Asked about the U.S. presence in Manbij and Turkish-U.S. relations, Cavusoglu said there has not been an agreement with the U.S. but "an understanding" on stabilizing Manbij and the eastern side of the Euphrates River.
"If we reach a consensus on a roadmap with the U.S., then we can say we have an agreement. Right now, there is an understanding," he said.
On Feb. 16, during U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's visit to Ankara, the two countries "reached an understanding" to normalize ties following a period of tensions over the situation in Syria.
The terrorist YPG/PKK should first withdraw from Manbij, northern Syria for Turkey to take steps with the U.S. based on trust, Cavusoglu said during Tillerson’s visit.
Asked about his phone call this Tuesday with Tillerson, Cavusoglu said it was a "farewell" conversation with the outgoing U.S. secretary of state.
"At a time where bilateral relations between the two countries are going through a critical process, Tillerson and I worked together," Cavusoglu said.
"We had differences of opinion many times. But this is natural. I wished him success and thanked him for his cooperation and for our friendship."
On March 13, U.S. President Donald Trump named CIA Director Mike Pompeo the next secretary of state, pending Senate confirmation.
EU-Turkey summit in Bulgaria
Asked about the March 26 Turkey-EU summit in Bulgaria, Cavusoglu said Ankara has no expectations about its EU membership process.
"We don't have any expectations about the expansion of the EU or the attitude they have about Turkey," Cavusoglu said.
"What we say is that the EU should reconsider all of its policies, regardless of its relations with Turkey. There is a EU right now which doesn’t know what they want or what they are doing."
The EU-Turkey leaders' meeting in Varna, Bulgaria will bring together European Council President Donald Tusk, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Bulgarian President Boyko Borissov, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Future Turkish embassy in Lesotho
Lesotho’s Makgothi, for his part, said during his meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, they discussed intentions to bring “relations to a higher level.”
“Turkey already has 42 embassies [in Africa] and the goal is to have 50. Lesotho is the among those which will seal the number 50,” said Makgothi, leader of a southern African nation.
Makgothi said preparations for opening an embassy in Lesotho would be accelerated immediately.
He said Turkey doesn’t have a one-sided view on Africa, but instead a policy which balances the interests of both sides.
“The Turkey-Africa partnership policy aims to gradually develop Africa and African countries.”